* This title makes no sense and is irrelevant to this post. I am just trying to keep things festive.
Remember my caramel apple stocked refrigerator from last week? Well, I forgot to show you the handy gift tags that were in the box...
...in case I want to give them away? Baffling. Maybe I am just supposed to write my name on all of the ones that are for me to eat, and label the ones I am willing to share? Does it feel like you just aren't as productive as you'd like to be when you try to work this holiday season? The answer?
Hire some cats. This is the Monkey in the Field's home office, and I can only assume the workflow is manageable because of her feline assistants.
Please note that there is one missing, you know, that nuisance coworker who is always on break. I am still trying to get past the serious lack of creepy monkeys from my birthday, and now I have to be concerned that I will also go without any Yorkie Love to wrap around my finger.
I see a lot of letters sprinkled about that ad, but there really are no words. Time to get that list wrapped up, or at least start crossing off the things that don't stand a chance,even if we forego sleep! Don't forget to breathe...
I am always waiting for something…food, to go outside, fresh water. Today I thought we were waiting for the right moment to take a picture for me to use on my holiday greetings, so I casually plopped myself down in this vignette...
…they said I'd better not pout, but won't tell me why!
I am absolutely not keeping this short because I am in stressy panic mode. No, it is because I know that you are busy and I don't want to hold you up. It's like an early holiday gift from me to you! Speaking of early holiday tidings, the refrigerator is full and I do not need to go to the grocery store...
…well, maybe a carrot or two and some milk to balance things out. Speaking of balance, the latke trio was fabulous this year.
I cannot believe my mom will only make these once a year! Speaking of once a year, our annual bell ringing shift was this past weekend. Have I told you about how they take the clangers out of the bells?
The rationale is that they would be too loud. Seriously? I brought my own contraband complete bell and it was not to be heard over the sound of my husband clanging two bells together (the preferred method). Next year? Sleigh bells, sleigh bells I say! Speaking of bells, I must jingle on out of here to reserve my seat for The Voice finale!
I could blame the weather, or lack thereof, for sapping my holiday spirit. My sprint out of the gate back in October to start preparing may have been a pace hard to keep without burning out. Or maybe, just maybe, I don't have the right decor. Perhaps I need something new to add some pizzazz to my usual. Dear, what could it be? Deer?
Life-sized, green-glittered, five hundred dollar fawn? Probably the answer, yet I fear I may have to deprive myself. I will find solace somewhere, like maybe the snack shack? I bought a box of these treats last week, for both nostalgic and dollar off coupon savings reasons.
As much as I wanted to devour several Funny Bones, laughing maniacally the whole time of course, I kept waiting and wondering. Had these cakes stood the test of time? I did not want to be disappointed. Would I be transported back to the Liverpool High School cafeteria in the late eighties, where sometimes a lunch time experience highlight involved finding enough spare change to purchase a package of Drake's, or better still, a friend who was willing to share? I couldn't take the suspense any longer and stared that Funny Bone down before taking my first bite. It wasn't bad by any means. I looked at it some more, as if I was studying tea leaves. My daughter gave me that teenage girl look and asked why I was studying the food. I had no logical answer for her. It tasted the same, but just didn't feel the same. Maybe I needed leg warmers. In other snacktastic news, I have been revisiting my s'mores passion. Exciting, I know. I had myself neatly tucked into the corner of the couch, flying without a net so to speak, as I tried to delicately eat my melted confection with no plate or napkin. I am a pro, of course I can manage such a feat! Well things got a little out of hand, or all over hand to be more accurate. I had marshmallow and chocolate on my hands that had to be dealt with in a most civilized and lady-like manner. I was a bit overzealous in my efforts and briefly mistook my healing food processor blade cut as stray chocolate and scraped it with my top teeth. Ouch. Really?
Oh yes, really. And why were my teeth even a factor in this cleanup you might ask? You didn't ask because this whole story is ridiculous enough already to you? Understood. Just in case though, the teeth were necessary for the stickier marshmallow bits, because I am classy like that.
In 1992 my grandmother started all of us with Department 56 Dickens' Village pieces for Christmas. Each of her three children got a church, believed to be vital to village functioning, and the grandchildren received a store of some sort. My first acquisition was the Poulterer, as it was part of a set of five stores and their were five grandchildren. I had visions of some day bartering with my cousins to collect the other four vendors. I embraced the start of this tradition, not necessarily because I was an aficionado of porcelain collectibles, but rather a fan of traditions. I still am. There are plenty of things that I do, taking more pleasure in the comfortable familiarity and predictable expectation than in the event itself. This new holiday happening held a double bonus as I would get to help set up the buildings and look forward to receiving a new one. My grandmother was so fond of her plan and of the houses themselves that she started a collection for her and my grandfather's house as well. Suddenly these very hard to buy for people were an urban development team looking for growth, and we had so many options to assist them. While my grandmother was focused on the houses themselves, my grandfather's interest had to do with the mechanics of displaying them. He started by electrifying the hutch, like literally put outlets in it with a master switch. Shelves were built, and when the pieces exceeded what could reasonably be displayed on the square footage provided by the hutch, removable wooden side wings were constructed that were screwed in. Some twigs and small blocks of wood were fashioned into bare winter trees to supplement the purchased evergreens.
Never once did I hear the phrase "I think the village is at maximum capacity!" It just magically appeared some time in December, display complete. We were all at our own houses, setting up our own modest towns. Truth be told, I have the makings of a densely populated city, as other people added to my collection for a few years as well. Eventually, the task of bringing the hutch to life got to be too much for my grandparents, but their desire to have this centerpiece of holiday decor did not fade. I signed up, along with my mother and aunt, to do the heavy lifting so to speak. We had no idea what we were in for that first year, so many cords, so many bulbs, so many accessories. My thoughts quickly went from the nostalgic "aw, I remember when I gave them this and that" to "oh my gosh, did we really give them all of this". We had obviously seen the final product year after year, but had not committed any of it to memory. Our own set ups had more of a "what might look nice this year" approach. We quickly found out that my grandmother's claim that different was not a bad thing actually meant as long as everything is the same. At one point a photo was offered for guidance, but it had been taken before the eastern and western extensions had even been added. My grandmother kept offering "gentle" suggestions and eventually the job was done. Strategies were discussed with regard to how future endeavors could be streamlined and less maddening. I might have suggested a scenario in which my grandmother was taken out to lunch while the other two elves magically whipped up the scene. Instead we just muddled along, refining our method as we became more familiar with all parts of the operation. Eventually I found peace in doing the job myself, while nodding politely in response to the chatter. My grandfather passed away, and my grandmother was not necessarily in a position for me to ask her for assistance. As I sat on the floor, balancing those side wings on my head, while trying to screw the tiniest of hardware in to the underside of the hutch, I always assumed my grandfather was watching me and smiling...or laughing at me. I was fine with either. As my grandmother's dementia progresses, it seems there is comfort in the familiar. Considering the very warm temperatures and lack of snowfall, it was almost plausible for her to not be able to keep track of the time of year, despite it being heralded as "the most wonderful time of the year". I made brief mention of getting her houses set up, and thought I saw a vague look of recognition on her face. I looked at my calendar and picked a day to set up her houses. She didn't express much interest at all in what I was up to, even though she was in her usual prime viewing seat on the couch. No opinions were offered. I wasn't sure if I was going to have time to finish the project in one session, so I made sure to keep everything put away as to not look messy. The mayor looked like she needed a nap, so I quit for the afternoon. There was an entire box of people and accessories still in the closet that I had planned to tackle on my next visit. When I was discussing my afternoon with my husband, he asked me if my grandmother had asked to have the houses put up. When I responded that she had not, he asked why I did them. I started to sputter and stammer out a response that as long as my grandmother lived in that house, those houses would be up for the holidays, she loves those houses and what if she asked about them at the last minute. Clearly it was my grandmother's best interests I was considering...clearly. The next day I returned to bring out the heart of the exhibit, the people. My grandmother remarked that the village looked really nice, not "overdone". Not overdone? But that was the theme of Hutchville. I asked if she wanted me to put some more of the accessories out, and her answer was no.
Yes, the village looks nice. In fact, my husband can't really see much difference between the two photos. Meanwhile I was seeing that the schoolyard had no children and merry-go-round. The church had no gate and nuns. (Gads, and those crazy little tombstones my grandmother had made back in the heyday.) The animals weren't on the farm. Where was the hustle and bustle? It was all packed in styrofoam and cardboard. I forced a smile and we sat on the couch to watch the birds at the feeders outside. I realized I had made this completely about me. My wish to find some sense of familiar in her house that is changing. My wish to cling, not only to traditions, but also the memories that she is ever so quickly losing.
You think you have followers? I have followers! Look at them all.
In dog people that's like 21! Four of their legs may be short, but mine are even shorter, hurry up people! I may not look like a very big dog, but there is plenty of me to share. This is a good thing since my loyal four year old friend's two year old sister decided she likes me too. Well, I shouldn't say she made a final decision because her screaming and laughing and wanting to be near me and wanting me to go away were a little confusing. She fed me some of my bag of Cheerios, until she decided to feed them to herself instead. I was invited to sit in the wagon too.
Just when I thought all I had to offer you was some leftover apple pie…
…come on, who is responsible for that cutting job? Nobody would confess! Lo and behold, there in the photo file were these gems passed on to me by Kim, over at Millie's Mats.
It was kind of her to think of me, and the beautiful creepiness of these monkey orchids did not disappoint. Of course I immediately asked my friend google how one would go about procuring such finery. Apparently the seeds are what is available, and I wasn't sure if I felt that daring and/or optimistic.